English language peeves

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Jeffrey Armbruster
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Re: English language peeves

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:14 am

the Cambridge online dictionary definition is:

a big ask

informal

I'm going to assume that "informal" is a synonym for "slang"...but maybe not! Still, a lot of slang withers away. It would be a big lift for 'a big ask' to remain in common usage ten or twenty years from now, imo.
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Rasputin
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Re: English language peeves

Post by Rasputin » Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:20 am

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:14 am
the Cambridge online dictionary definition is:

a big ask

informal

I'm going to assume that "informal" is a synonym for "slang"...but maybe not! Still, a lot of slang withers away. It would be a big lift for 'a big ask' to remain in common usage ten or twenty years from now, imo.
Well you never know, but I doubt it. It was certainly in common usage ten or twenty years ago. It seems to be an Australian expression which came into use about thirty years ago, but which is based on a much much older use of 'ask' in the general sense of 'request'. It seems that fundraisers also use it in their own specific sense - again based on the much older general sense. I found this via Google (it is on StackExchange):

Surprisingly enough, ask as a noun meaning an

Asking, inquiry; thing asked, request.

has been around for more than a thousand years — the verb ask dates from 885 ᴀᴅ, so a bit older than the 1000 ᴀᴅgiven below for the noun. Here are the first and last citations from the OED:

a1000 Laws of Athelstan §5 in B. Thorpe Anc. Laws Eng. I. 230
Hæfdon ealle ða ǽscean.
1886 ‘Cavendish’ Princ. Whist 127
When your three comes down in the next round, it is not an ask for trumps.

However, a draft addition from 2005 points out a recent use, which it labels colloquial, originally Australian, and chiefly Sport lingo:

colloq. (orig. Austral.) (chiefly Sport).

With modifying word or phrase, as a big (also huge, etc.) ask: something which is a lot to ask of someone; something difficult to achieve or surmount. Cf. tall order at tall adj. 8d.

The citations for this sense date only to 1987, and the two most recent ones given are:

2000 Rugby World June 25/1
It was a huge ask of my players, but their attitude throughout the week prior to the game was superb.
2003 Gloucester Citizen (Nexis) 1 Feb. 48
Every week is a bit of an ask—but the squad is very strong.

It sounds extremely colloquial to my ear, something of recent and casual coinage (although as I showed above, it is actually very old), so I would advise against it in formal writing.

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Re: English language peeves

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:54 pm

Wow, Rasputin, excellent sleuthing! I stand corrected. You'd think that I'd learn,but no!

A while back I received an advance reading copy of Cheryl Strayed's book Wild. It's pretty good, I thought, but it will never sell. There's my judgement in action.
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Pat Hargan
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Re: English language peeves

Post by Pat Hargan » Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:40 pm

My own pet hate is the use of the expression 'speak to' to mean something like 'reflect', as in 'The talent on display in this competition speaks to the country’s enormous human capital'. This seems to be a neologism (I am sure people did not use it twenty or thirty years ago), and I assume it comes from business jargon.
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Re: English language peeves

Post by pogmoor » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:34 am

I was just listening to a podcast of the BBC radio programme Word of Mouth that is presented by the English poet and children's author Michael Rosen. He was interviewing the children's author Malorie Blackman who said something that could be taken as a riposte to some of the comments in this thread:
Language is a living breathing entity with parts that are dying and parts that are being born - moving all the time, adapting and changing.
...and (in relation to written rather than spoken language) I was then reminded of the prologue of a book that has already been cited in this thread, Steven Pinker's A Sense of Style in which he traces the history of comments about the decline of English back through the 20th, 19th and 18th centuries, capping it off with a comment from William Caxton (he who introduced the English language to the printing press) who said:
And certaynly our language now used veryeth ferre from what whiche was used when I was borne"
...and even further back; apparently:
some of the clay tablets deciphered from ancient Sumerian include complaints about the deteriorating writing skills of the young.
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Re: English language peeves

Post by lagartija » Thu Sep 28, 2017 12:25 pm

^ :grire: :-)

Yes, I did mention in my previous comments that as we age, the language changes around us and that we often resist that change from the familiar.
Seems as if it is an old , old story.
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tubeman
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Re: English language peeves

Post by tubeman » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:56 pm

"Take a knee." First of all, it makes no sense grammatically, and secondly, I'm sick of hearing of hearing it on a daily basis, especially in view of all of the far more serious problems in the world.
Last edited by tubeman on Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Andrew Fryer
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Re: English language peeves

Post by Andrew Fryer » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:00 pm

tubeman wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:56 pm
"Take a knee."...makes no sense grammatically
It makes as much sense as "take a bow".
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Re: English language peeves

Post by hpaulj » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:06 pm

Or "take a stand".

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: English language peeves

Post by Andrew Fryer » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:11 pm

or take a leak
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tubeman
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Re: English language peeves

Post by tubeman » Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:01 pm

True, but one doesn't hear those other "take" phrases multiple times a day on the news or read them daily in the newspaper.
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Andrew Fryer
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Re: English language peeves

Post by Andrew Fryer » Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:02 pm

Well, that's because you are discussing politics, not the English language.
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Re: English language peeves

Post by Michael Lazar » Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:57 pm

Apart from sheer grammatical errors, the trendy use of words in new and non-traditional ways. Today we are "curating" almost everything whereas we used to curate only historic artifacts in museums and the like. Now we "unpack" stories and ideas. Things that were in common use are now "ubiquitous". I am probably most annoyed by the use of the words "proud" and "pride". I consider myself fortunate to be a Canadian because of the beauty and size of the country, the many opportunities, the relative safety etc. But I am not "proud" to be a Canadian while there are still starving children, homeless people, growing income inequality, separate and unjust laws governing indigenous people and so forth.

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: English language peeves

Post by Andrew Fryer » Thu Oct 12, 2017 3:43 pm

I like unpack. It's often better than deconstruct, which people use when they mean analyse.
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Re: English language peeves

Post by martinardo » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:59 pm

I found this some time back on the internet somewhere (sorry no citation) and re-read it recently.
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